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The Mahalakshmi Ashtakam Indra Uvaca

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Dear All: The Mahalakshmi Ashtakam (eight verses on Mahalakshmi) which we chanted yesterday was composed by Indra, the king of the Gods. Hence, it starts with Indra Uvaca. The following link gives this stotram in several languages. http://www.prapatti.com/slokas/sanskrit/mahaalakshmyashtakam.pdf
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The Phalashruti part says that if you chant this hymn 1. Once every day (eka kaalam paten nityam) all sins will be destroyed. 2. Twice every day (dwikaalam paten nityam) will yield bounty of food grains (dhaanya) and wealth (dhana) 3. Thrice every day (trikaalam paten nityam) will help with conquest of all enemies

Interesting isn't it? Only once every day to destroy all sins but thrice every day to conquer your enemies! One must wonder why. There is another hymn, called the Dwaadasha-naama Stotram, which we chant at the Balaji temple in Sterlings Heights, MI, when we do special Mahalakshmi prayers (like reciting the Sri Suktam 12 times, or 28 times, even 108 times along with the AshTThottaram, 108 names, Om Prakrutim Vikrutim Vidyaam...). The link is given below and is found at the same website. http://www.prapatti.com/slokas/sanskrit/lakshmiidvaadashanaamastotram.pdf The Phalashruti for this stotram states that if one recites this Stotram for a whole year, three times a day (trisandhyam) then one becomes worthy of worship by Mahalakshmi Herself. The Mahalakshmi AshTThottaram (108 namas of Mahalakshmi) also states that one will become like Kubera if the stotram is chanted regularly 100 times on each Friday, for a whole year! The "Indra Uvaca" Ashtakam was composed when Mahalakshmi appeared from the Milk Ocean as it was being churned. At first, the fierce poison Haalaahala appeared. Only then did all the various types of opulences appear. The devas were pleased after Lord Shiva drank the poison and resumed the churning with great enthusiasm. Then the celestial cow Kamadhenu appeared. The rishis took her since she would be so helpful to them in performing various yagnyas with offerings from milk products.
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Then came the horse named Uccaishravas (white in color and which could fly too). Maharaja Bali took it. Indra did not covet it because Bhagavan had told Indra (secretly) not to take it. Then came the divine elephant named Iraavata, which Indra took (as per Bhagavan's wish). The Iraavata, unlike other elephants has four tusks and is as white as the snow of the Himalayas (Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 8, chapter 8, verse 4). Then came the jewel Kaustubha, which Bhagavan Himself decided to take and it adorns His neck. Why did Bhagavan take the Kaustubha? Anyone who just looks at the Kaustubha jewel is blessed - with all opulences. This is the reason Bahgavan took the jewel and it adorns His neck. We just have to look at it when we try to get a darshan of Bhagavan at the temple. Then came the Kalpavruksha, which was taken by the gods to enhance the beauty of Swargaloka. Then appeared the Divine dancers - the Apsaras - who were so enchanting and beautiful that all the gods wanted them and so they (apsaras) became the residents of Swaraga loka. Finally, Mahalakshmi Herself appeared. When She appeared everyone, without exception, wanted Her as a wife. All the gods, all the asuras, all the humans too (sura-asura-maanavaah, Canto 8, chapter 8, verse 9). When She appeared all the directions became radiant as if brightened by a flash of lightning. Indra wanted Her. So, did all the rishis. And, so did Brahma and Shiva as well. And, also all the asuras. All of them tried to please Her in various ways. Mahalakshmi looked around and found none that was a match for Her. She looked around to see who it is who did NOT seem to covet Her (Sumangalah kashca na kaamkshate hi maam, verse 22, chapter 8, Canto 8). And She found that only Bhagavan seemed to be totally fit for Her. Only Bhagavan showed not a trace of any desire. In fact, all the gunas wanted to reside within Bhagavan. Shukaacarya concludes this description of Samudra Manthanam, beautifully, as follows.

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Vavre varam sarva guNair apekshitam Ramaa Mukundam nirapeksham eepsitam ll 8.8.23 ll SB Sarva gunair apekshitam, means desired by all the gunas. This is the description of Bhagavan who is referred to as Mukunda, One who provides us with Moksha, or liberation. In the next two verses follows the description of the scene of Mahalakshmi garlanding Bhagavan. And Bhagavan accepted Her and She immediately took residence in His vaksha sthalam (heart area). May be that is why we say that true love springs from the heart. After Mahalakshmi chose Sriman Narayana, or Mahavishnu, as Her consort, everyone rejoiced and accepted her decision and continued to seek Her blessings indeed just the glance from the corner of Her eyes (kataaksham). This is the background for Indra's hymn where he asks for the wealth of his kingdom (through conquest over all his enemies). May be this also explains why the Phalashruti says "chant the stotram three times each day" to conquer enemies. For Indra, even sinful activities could be destroyed with just one chant but retaining his kingdom needed chanting three times. Indra wanted his heavenly kingdom (of the gods), like the king Suratha in the Devi Mahatmyam story who wanted his earthly kingdom back and also a kingdom that no one could ever take away from him. But, let us remember "Vavre Ramaa Mukundam" during this Navarathri days dedicated for the worship of Mahalakshmi. BTW, ladies, in the Devi Mahatmyam story, it was Mahalakshmi who killed the demon Mahishasura, not Mahaadurga. Do you get the message? Very sincerely V. Laxmanan October 19, 2012
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Deity at the Mahalakshmi temple in Kohlapur, Maharashtra (India) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Mahalaxmi_of_Kolhapur.jpg Unlike most temples, here the deity faces west and the rays of the setting sun fall on the deity on the days of the equinox (around Mar 21 and Sep 21 each year, when day and night time are of equal length, all over the world). This temple is considered to be among the major Shakti peeTams. A stone lion, the vahana of the deity as mentioned in Devi Mahatmyam adorns the wall behind the deity.

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Dear All: The second part of the Devi Mahatmyam story (called Madhyama caritam) describes the killing of Mahishaasura by Devee, who is now in the form of Mahalakshmi. The dhynam sloka, at the beginning of this section, describes the Devee as follows. Om Aksha srak parashum gadeshu kulisham padam dhanuh kunDikaam DanDam shaktim asim ca carma jalajam ghantaam suraabhaajanam l Shoolam Pasha-Sudarshane ca dadhateem hastaih pravaala prabhaam Seve Sairibha-mardineem iha Mahaalakshmeem Saroja-sthitaam ll
Sairibha-mardini here refers to Mahishaasura and this is derived from the fact that he was very quick and violent and constantly tossing around and changing form during the battle. The devotee says Seve, I serve this deity. The deity is described as the killer of Mahishaasura. She is seated on a lotus (saroja-sthitaam). She has the radiance of coral (pravaala prabhaam, which has a pure white lustre). She holds in Her hands (eighteen in all), the rosary beads (aksha, short for aksha-maala), axe, mace, arrow, thunderbolt, lotus, bow, pitcher, rod (or spear), Shakti, sword, shield, conch (jalajam), bell, wine cup (suraa bhajanam), trident, noose, and the Sudarshana cakra. The wine cup (also called paana-paatram) was given to Her by Kubera. All the others mentioned here were given to Her by all the Gods as She prepared for the battle with Mahishaasura. As discussed in earlier emails (see also the article on Durga Sapta Shlokee and Devi Mahaatmyam, click here), the Devee finally kills Mahishaasura after She finishes Her drink, jumps off Her lion on which She was riding, presses Her foot on Mahishaasuras neck and struck off his head with Her sword. Esoterically speaking, the victory over Mahishaasura, the second step in the path of liberation, represents of the victory over our ever tossing mind and changing desires. When one desire is fulfilled another takes its place. One transforms into another, like Mahishaasura who kept tossing around from place to place and changing his forms from a buffalo to a lion to a man, to an elephant, and back to a buffalo. Likewise, our kaama, the product of rajo guna, keeps on taking different forms. This is known as Vikshepa Shakti.
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Both Kaama and Krodha, as Krishna teaches Arjuna, are the product of Rajoguna. One gripped with them is on the path to destruction. The fury with which Mahishaasura fights and how he tries destroy Devees forces makes an interesting description. We will discuss this in more detail separately in tomorrows email, the final day of Mahalakshmi pooja. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan Oct 19, 2012

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